Home > Ghosts of the Shadow Market (Ghosts of the Shadow Market #1-10)(11)

Ghosts of the Shadow Market (Ghosts of the Shadow Market #1-10)(11)
Author: Cassandra Clare

“I thought her very amiable,” said Anna, looking out the window at London sparkling in the vast night. She longed to be out there among the earthbound stars, walking in the streets of Soho, living a life of music and adventure and dancing. “Very pretty, too.”

Cecily tucked a stray lock of hair back behind her daughter’s ear. In surprise, Anna looked at her mother for a moment—there was a little sadness in Cecily’s eyes, though she couldn’t have guessed why. Perhaps she was simply tired after being bored by the Inquisitor all night. Papa, for instance, was quite asleep in the other corner of the carriage, and Christopher was leaning against him, blinking drowsily. “She isn’t nearly as pretty as you.”

“Mother,” Anna said in exasperation, and turned back to the carriage window.

* * *

Under the arches of the railway viaduct, near the south end of London Bridge, a large gathering was taking place.

It was midsummer, so the sun set over London at nearly ten o’clock. This meant the time to sell at the Shadow Market was reduced, and the whole place had a bit of a frenzied air. There was steam and smoke and flapping silks. Hands reached out, shoving wares under shoppers’ noses—gems and trinkets, books, pendants, powders, oils, games and toys for Downworlder children, and items that could not be classified. There was a hum of smells. The tang of the river and the smoke from the trains overhead mixed with the remains of the day’s produce from the mundane market—squashed produce, bits of meat, the odor wafting from oyster barrels. Vendors burned incense, which tangled with spices and perfumes. The miasma could be overpowering.

Brother Zachariah moved through the crush of stalls, immune to the smells and the crowding. Many Downworlders drew back at the approach of the Silent Brother. He had been coming here for weeks now to meet Ragnor Fell. Tonight, he also glanced around to see if he spotted the vendor he had seen on one of his previous visits. The stall he was looking for could move on its own; it had feet like a chicken. The woman behind it was an elderly faerie woman with a wild mass of hair. She sold colorful potions, and Matthew Fairchild had purchased one and given it to his mother. It had taken all of Jem’s efforts to bring Charlotte back from death’s door. She had not been the same since, nor had Matthew.

The stall was not present tonight; neither, it seemed, was Ragnor. He was about to take a final turn around the Market before departing when he saw someone he knew bent over a stall of books. The man had a shock of white hair and striking purple eyes. It was Malcolm Fade.

“Is that you, James Carstairs?” he said.

How are you, my friend?

Malcolm simply smiled. There was always something a little sad about Malcolm: Jem had heard gossip about a tragic love affair with a Shadowhunter who had chosen to be an Iron Sister rather than be with the one she loved. Jem knew that for some, the Law was more important than love. Even as he was now, he could not understand it. He would have given anything to be with the one he loved.

Anything except that which was more sacred than Jem’s own life: Tessa’s life, or Will’s.

“How goes your quest?” said Malcolm. “Has Ragnor turned up any information for you about a certain demon you’ve been seeking?”

Jem gave Malcolm a quelling look; he preferred that not too many people knew of the quest he had undertaken.

“Malcolm! I have the book you wanted!” A warlock woman carrying a book bound in yellow velvet strode up to Malcolm.

“Thank you, Leopolda,” said Malcolm.

The woman stared at Jem’s face. Jem was used to this. Though he was a Silent Brother, his lips and eyes had not been sewn shut. He did not see or speak as humans did, but the fact that without runes he could have done so seemed to distress some people more than the sight of a Silent Brother who had bound himself less reluctantly to the quiet dark.

We have not met.

“No,” the woman replied. “We have not. My name is Leopolda Stain. I make a visit here from Vienna.”

She had a German accent and a soft, purring voice.

“This is Brother Zachariah,” Malcolm said.

She nodded. There was no hand extended, but she continued to stare.

“You must forgive me,” she said. “We do not often see Silent Brothers in our Market. London is a strange place to me. The Market in Vienna is not so bustling. It is in the Wienerwald, under the trees. Here, you are under this railway. It is quite a different experience.”

“Zachariah is not quite like other Silent Brothers,” said Malcolm.

Leopolda seemed to conclude the study she was making of Jem’s face and smiled.

“I must bid you a good night,” she said. “It is good to see you, Malcolm. It has been too long, mein Liebling. Too long. And it has been most interesting to meet you, James Carstairs. Auf Wiedersehen.”

She slipped away through the crowd. Jem watched her go. She had decided to call him James Carstairs, not Brother Zachariah, and the choice seemed deliberate. There were certainly many denizens of Downworld who knew his Shadowhunter name—it was no secret—but suddenly Jem felt like a butterfly under a pin, caught in the gaze of the lepidopterist.

Can you tell me about her? he asked Malcolm, who had returned to examining the book in his hand.

“Leopolda is a bit of an odd one,” Malcolm said. “I met her while I was traveling in Vienna. I don’t think she leaves her city often. She seems to get around with some famous mundanes. She is . . .”

He hesitated.

Yes?

“. . . more connected, I suppose, to her demon side than her human side than most of us are. More than me, certainly. She makes me feel uneasy. I’m glad that you came over. I was looking for a way to politely escape.”

Jem looked in the direction that Leopolda had gone. Someone more connected to the demon side. . . .

That was someone he might need to speak with. Or watch.

* * *

Anna lay in her bed, eyes closed, trying to will herself to slumber. In her mind, she was dancing again. She wore her imaginary finest evening wear—a suit of deep gray, a waistcoat of sunny yellow with matching gloves. On her arm was Ariadne, as she had been tonight, in the blue dress.

Sleep was not coming. She pushed herself out of bed and went to the window. The night was warm and close. She had to do something with herself. Her brother’s clothes were still in her wardrobe. She picked them out and smoothed them on the bed. She had planned on returning them, but . . .

Who would miss them? Not Christopher. Their laundress might, but no one would question that Christopher might simply lose his trousers, possibly in the middle of a crowded dance floor. And the older clothes—he wouldn’t need them, not at the rate he was growing. The trousers were too long, but they could be hemmed. The shirt could be nipped in at the back. A few simple stitches were all it would take.

Anna was not a natural seamstress, but like all Shadowhunters, she possessed the basic skills to repair gear. She couldn’t have made lace or done precise tailoring, but she could get this job done. She tacked his shirt and waistcoat in the back to make them fit and flatter her torso. The jacket was a bit more complex, requiring tucks on the back and the side. The shoulders were a bit wrong, and the effect a bit triangular, but all in all it was a passable effort. She practiced her walk in the fitted trousers, now that they no longer scraped the ground.

She had always loved gear as a child, its easy maneuverability, the way it allowed her to move unfettered. She had always been surprised that other girls, unlike her, didn’t resent being pressed back into dresses and skirts when training was over. That they didn’t resent the loss of freedom.

But it was more than the comfort of the clothes. In silks and ruffles Anna felt silly, as if she were pretending to be someone she was not. When she wore dresses out on the street, she was ignored as a gawky girl, or stared at by men in a way she did not like. She had been out in her brother’s clothes only twice, both times late at night—but oh, women looked at her then, smiling women, conspiratorial women, women who knew that in donning the clothes of men, Anna walked in their power and their privilege. They looked at her soft lips, her long eyelashes, her blue eyes; they looked at her hips in tight trousers, the curve of her breasts under a man’s cotton shirt, and their eyes spoke to her in the secret language of women: You have taken their power for your own. You have stolen fire from the gods. Now come and make love to me, as Zeus made love to Danaë, in a shower of gold.

In her mind’s eye, Anna bent to take Ariadne’s hand in hers, and the hand seemed real.

“You are so beautiful tonight,” she said to Ariadne. “You are the most beautiful girl I have ever seen.”

“And you,” Ariadne answered in her mind, “are the most handsome person I have ever known.”

The next day, Anna spent two hours writing a note to Ariadne that ended up reading:

Dear Ariadne,

It was very nice to meet you. I hope we can train together sometime. Please do pay a call.

Regards,

Anna Lightwood

Two entire hours for that, and a pile of drafts. Time no longer had meaning, and might never have meaning again.

In the afternoon, she had plans to meet her cousins James, Lucie, and Thomas, along with Matthew Fairchild. James, Matthew, Thomas, and Christopher were inseparable, and always meeting at a house or a hideout. They were invading her aunt Sophie and uncle Gideon’s home today. Anna attended their little gatherings only on occasion, as did Lucie—the girls had many occupations to amuse themselves with; today, she desperately needed something to do, something to moor her mind in place, to keep her from fighting and pacing her room.

She walked with Christopher, who was excitedly talking of some kind of device that would fly through the air by means of four rotating blades. It sounded like he was describing a mechanical insect. Anna made noises that indicated she was listening although she was most assuredly not.

It was not far to their cousins’ house. Her cousins Barbara and Eugenia were in the morning room. Barbara was stretched out on a sofa, while Eugenia was furiously working at a bit of needlepoint as if she truly hated it and the only way she could express her hatred was by stabbing the stretched cloth with the needle as vigorously as she could.

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